A law allowing the private use of up to 15 grammes of cannabis is now in force in Antigua and Barbuda following the publication in the official gazette of the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act of 2018.
Editor of the Official Gazette Ryan Johnson told OBSERVER Radio yesterday that the Act says the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act was gazetted on Monday by publication on the official website, gazette.gov.ag.
Traditionally, Acts were considered gazetted with the actual print publication of the document but the Gazette Authorisation and Publication Act of 2017 has empowered the administration to utilise online publication.
“That particular Act … the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act is posted online right now for viewing. That basically shows that it is actually in force as law right now,” the official said.
Johnson notes that while there is no penalty for possessing 15 grammes of cannabis or less, its public use is still restricted.
“A public place means any structure, facility, or space used for gathering individuals, or open to public or any other similar space accessible to the public which would include bars, drinking places, restaurants, clubs …”
Households are now allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants.
Meanwhile, first time offenders will be given a warning, while a second offence will attract a violation ticket of $500.
A third and subsequent offences will see the imposition of a $1,500 fine upon conviction.
The amended Act also requires individuals under 18 years to participate in a drug counselling programme if found with cannabis.
Another amendment provides for the expungement of convictions prior to the passage of the bill for offences involving 10 grammes of marijuana or less.
The government has said that the fines collected from offenders will
go toward a public education campaign on cannabis use.